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Exclusive: New ISRO Chairman S Somanath speaks on his new mission

"We have opened our doors to young entrepreneurs. They are game-changers. Instead of confining their skills and imagination to a particular area of space science, they can expand the envelope of possibilities in this sunrise sector," Somanath said in an exclusive interview

Exclusive interview with S Somanath, new ISRO chairman with Asianet News
Thiruvananthapuram, First Published Jan 12, 2022, 11:18 PM IST
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There is a huge enthusiasm among the country's young entrepreneurs to explore emerging commercial opportunities in the space scenario. This reflects their confidence in new sectors being opened up by the Centre and in the Indian Space Research Organisation, said S Somanath, who was appointed as ISRO chairman and secretary of the Department of Science on Wednesday.

"We have opened our doors to these game-changers. Instead of confining their skills and imagination to a particular area of space science, they can expand the envelope of possibilities in this sunrise sector,’’ Somanath told Asianet News in the first-ever interview with a media organization.

There are many startups entering the field. Of course, rocket manufacture and developing other launch vehicles involves an element of risk. It is the same in the case of manufacturing or assembling satellites. But there are many youngsters in talks with ISRO probing such possibilities, he said.

"It is the low-risk area of application development based on space-based data which is attracting the maximum interest. Becoming providers of space-based services opens a new window of opportunity and ISRO is fully behind them," Somanath, who is currently the Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram, said.

Also Read: ISRO to launch SSLV in first quarter of 2022, Govt approves Rs 169 crores for project

"I am following the footsteps of Shri Vikram Sarabhai (the country is commemorating the 50th death anniversary of Shri Sarabhai this year) who envisaged a different trajectory of Indian space research and development. While most nations used space for projecting another dimension of their defence power, India used its achievements for reaching scientific benefits to the common man. This is evident from the great strides made in telemedicine and distance education to name a few.

"My mission will be to continue this work. There are many departments in the country that need the support of space technology. ISRO will improve interaction with them with a view to developing user-based initiatives in these areas," Somanath pointed out.

"Currently ISRO is in direct connect with about 20 government departments. But there are another 80 more where we have indirect engagement. My focus will be to bring them all under the umbrella and develop products that uplift the lives of common people of the country," he said.

"We can contribute more in the service sector. And also in the data-driven communication sector. This is one of the priority areas. There are many more possibilities using available transponders. But we need to develop a matching downlink facility to have the last-mile connectivity," he said, adding, "Similarly, remote sensing needs immediate attention. Along with huge satellites with a longer lifespan, we must also have a fleet of smaller satellites that could be visited at a faster pace. This will help speedy upgrading of subsequent series."

Read Part II of the Interview: India's Reusable Launch Vehicle and Small Satellite Launch Vehicle this year

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